"The second dream is more difficult to convey. Nothing happened. He scarcely saw a face, scarcely heard a voice say, 'That is your friend'."
- E. M. Forster, Maurice Chapter 4.
They lived quietly. Maurice blistered his hands and burnt his muscles on wood, learning a trade that was real for once, not abstract numbers that moved too fast to read and were never the same as yesterday. Where Maurice's mind had been muddled, in the forest it broke free. One. Two. Chopping wood was wonderful for one's concentration.
Alec still thought Maurice was a bloody fool, and said so. "But what am I, then?"
Alec was the one who most often went to the village or the town. Maurice, who had spent his life among people and who had been hemmed in by pleasant suburban houses, disliked leaving the freedom of the greenwood. Alec, who had always had the forest to retreat to, needed people to breathe. And yet, they got along well. It helped that Alec had always laughed and Maurice had learnt to, somewhere on his way to the boathouse that night. Quarrels were rarely serious and could be brushed aside with affection, or argued without rancour.
"Alec," Maurice said one night, "I can't think of anything – you should know – there's nothing, quite, that's ever happened to me that's made me as happy as this has."
Alec shifted, yawning like a cat. He knocked his forehead against Maurice's chin; not hard, but to give the effect of a friendly shove. He had already known this and he knew that Maurice was aware that the same went for Alec himself. "That's all right, then," he said.
It is hard to describe the sense of serenity that descended over their small cottage to a modern reader, for nowadays people are too often convinced that they will be murdered in their beds to sleep well. But their tranquillity was unassailable, like the final day of summer before autumn rains. They must be left there, in their separate peace.